Summing Up Our Zion and Bryce Canyon Family Vacation With Some Pointers For Others Planning A Family Hiking Trip

As you can tell from the last few posts we had an amazing time vacationing in Zion and Bryce National Parks. I credit our amazing time to a lot of research, planning, and mostly to what we learned from our guides the first time my husband and I took a guided trip to this area two years ago.

On this trip we were on our own and I want to share some pointers to help anyone else have a successful trip, as we did, to this same area..

#1 Trail Map: This is something you do not want to forget….and if you do go back for it! You are hiking in the desert where it is easy to miss a turn off, get injured, and with mountains surrounding you on all sides cell service is quite limited. We found a family on our trail through Echo Canyon miles from the trail they had been searching for. When asked if they had a trail map, their response was, NO we forgot it.


#2 Cell Phone: Bring it just in case you would need help and are lucky enough to get a signal.

#3 First Aid: You don’t need much but you also should never be without some first aid items. We actually offered some of our first aid supplies to a family we met on the trail because they left theirs back in camp. You may not get so lucky and meet someone on some of the more remote trails and an injury could really make the hike back miserable.

#4 Headlamp: We all think and plan to be done hiking and out by sunset, although you really never know what will happen until it happens. Hiking out of the mountains in darkness can be even more dangerous than in daylight. So carrying a small light weight headlamp is a smart idea and worth the extra pack weight.

#5 WATER: I cannot stress this enough. You will need water, and a lot of water. If you are doing more than one trail in the park you will be able to refill water containers at each trail head in Zion NP.

#6 Do not feed the wildlife: There is a fine in the national park if you are caught feeding the wildlife.

IMG_2038#7 Watch your pack when you take it off: Squirrels, lizards, and chipmunks are VERY BRAVE here and they will chew a hole in packs very quickly.  IMG_2093

#8 Snacks: Bring trail snacks and don’t worry about counting calories while hiking. You will need the energy and will burn the calories quickly here with all the elevation so eat often. IMG_1818 #9 Flash flood warnings and weather: Check the park website for the flash flood and weather forecast warnings everyday. If it’s too high, choose an alternate trail for the day.

#10 Have an alternate plan: Keep in mind that accidents happen and this is a remote area so it takes search and rescue personnel sometimes hours or days to reach people in need. Have an alternate plan if you would come across your chosen trail head and find it closed due to search and rescue trying to find someone. We thankfully did our first hike into Echo Canyon on our first day because the second day the trail was closed down all day and night due to search and rescue trying to help someone.

#11 Permit/Back country Passes: Research before you hike and make sure your chosen trail is not one that requires you to have a permit or pass. Some do and some don’t.

#12 Sunscreen/Hat: Desert sun is hot, lather up and wear a hat if you can.

#13 Adequate Shoes/Boots: You will come across cactus, snakes, wildlife, dirt, rock, water, and so on. Wear adequate shoes/boots.  IMG_1992


#14 Electrolyte Replacement: I will attest to this personally… will sweat like crazy here in the summer time. Prepare to have some sort of electrolyte replacement with you on the trail.


#15 Groceries: Bring what you can from home or stop in the nearest town before arriving at the park. Groceries are outrageous here….a jar of salsa in the local store we saw was $8 compared to maybe $2 here at our home store.  Clif bars were $3.50 each. We brought all our trail food from home and thankfully did not have to purchase anything at the little grocery store near the park.

#16 Bring Ziplocs: These are priceless….great ice packs for sore muscles, water proofing personal items in the Narrows, rain protection, keeping your packs organized, carryout, sealable garbage bag, etc.

#17 Have Fun: A vacation like this takes a lot of planning but if all goes smoothly you should have tons of fun, leave exhausted, and have memories that will last a life time. I know we did, we were, and we have all of these:)




IMG_2393IMG_2410  IMG_2207

Feel free to email me or comment if you have any questions in regards to anything you see or that we did. I will be glad to answer anything I can for you.




The Perfect Storm…

QUESTION: What is 17.5 inches tall and can ruin a wonderful vacation?

ANSWER: An airport covered in 17.5 inches of snow!

Yes, you read it correctly. Our vacation was not delayed or postponed. It was CANCELED!

I have learned a hard lesson about trying to escape the winter blues of Wisconsin and escape somewhere warm for a few days. A lesson I will NEVER relive again as long as I live in this state. (Which will not be much longer, I hope)

I will say, if you are ever headed to the Nevada area and wish to hike the Red Rock Canyon area I have two spectacular guides that offered exceptional customer service. I wish I could tell you how much we enjoyed hiking with them but this never happened. Although, despite their cancellation policies we were very happy to hear we would receive a full refund from both guides.

For now, give me a few days to feel sorry for myself. Then I need to find my big girl panties, put them on, and continue on with life as usual.

Our 20th Anniversary Vacation-Zion National Park-Day 1 and 2

We just returned from our Zion National Park vacation to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We have never taken a vacation like this in the past and I can assure you this will not be our last. It was SPECTACULAR!!!!!

We booked this guided trip with REI Adventures. We have wanted to see Zion for some time now and thought this would be the perfect time. Well, as we found out, mother nature had other thoughts. We were to get ourselves to Henderson,Nevada and stay at or near the Green Valley Ranch Resort because this would be the pick up point of our trip. We arrived the afternoon before and spent the night here. The resort was beautiful and the rooms were very nice.




We got settled and walked to a near by shopping district to get some food for breakfast before the REI guides picked us up in the morning. Along the way, my husband loaded a geocache near our hotel so he could get one in Nevada. This was an easy find, in a nice little community area in the shopping district.


We got what we needed and returned to the resort for some relaxation by the pool before the next few days of hiking.




Not exactly what we were looking for in this vacation, but who could pass this up. Not us!!!

The next day we were asked to meet in the lobby at 8am. The REI guides showed up and we all gathered for a small chat in the lobby. There were 9 hikers and two guides in our group. We were informed immediately of some bad news, which turns out was not so bad after all. The road to our camp was washed out from monsoon rains overnight and the park had to close it down. Our first thought was, panic, we traveled all this way to be stuck in Nevada. I would have been devastated. Then they told us we would be lodge based instead and REI would be covering the cost of this arrangement. Well, if that is all that went wrong, I could handle that. So we loaded and left for the 3 hour trip to Zion National Park.

Everyone chatted along the way, and got to know each other a little better. Upon arriving in Springdale, Utah our first stop was for lunch at a city park.


We were told to stretch our legs and take a walk while our guides prepared lunch for the group.

Not 5 minutes out of the van and guess what my husband came across, a snake!

Lunch was a simple chicken veggie wrap with ginger sesame dressing, fresh fruit and homemade cookies.


Megan, our guide, informed us that one plate of cookies was made with a mesquite flour and one plate was made with a flour with a few “special” additives. Ground up grasshoppers and crickets, were the “special” additives:( Oh my, I thought, gosh its going to be an interesting few days! My husband gave them a try, me on the other hand, just couldn’t get past the thought. I had the bug free version on the other plate.

Then we were off to get our first glance of Zion. I was speechless, the beauty was almost magical. I had finally made it to climb the mountains, something I have only ever dreamed of doing.

We filled water bottles and our first and only hike of the day was the Watchman trail. (round trip 5 miles) It was a great first hike, hot and beautiful. Our guides were very knowledgeable and would share great information about each trail as we hiked. It was quite informative.

Then it was off to see the lodge we would be staying at called the Driftwood Lodge, just a few miles down the road.


We arrived and Megan got us all our assigned room keys. We were told to freshen up and meet back in the front in an hour for dinner at and area restaurant.(No camp fire food for dinner with the camp being washed out. All our meals were also provided and paid for by REI) We took our keys and all scattered to our rooms. Upon entering, I just wanted to cry. It was so beautiful.



Were were the only ones with a suite, being the only married couple on the trip together. And the view from our private patio was like a postcard.


Our dinner that night was at a place called Oscar’s Cafe.


Superb food, especially the brownie sunday that came on a platter sized dish. Brian, our guide, ordered this and asked for 11 spoons, one for each of us to have a bite or two.

After dinner we were all briefed on what was the plan for the next day, how much water to have in our packs and any other special supplies that would be needed for the days adventures.

It was a terrific start to our trip and I just could not imagine what sights we would see the next day.